After reading a number of exercise bike reviews and articles on the web, it struck me that the majority of these articles were written by people who have probably never even used an exercise bike. So I decided to put together a buyers guide, as well as recommendations for some of the better exercise bike choices on the market. My aim is to create a guide to help you find the right exercise bike for your needs. This article was created with a UK audience in mind, therefore if you live outside of the UK, you may not be able to purchase the models listed in your country.
Also, just so I don't waste your time, these are mostly budget / mid-range home-use exercise bikes that are intended for beginner to intermediate users. If you're a keen cyclist, these bikes may not be for you!
Exercise Bike Buyers Guide
- Customer Service
Even the best quality exercise bikes can develop faults. So If you’re dealing with a company that doesn’t stand by their product, good specifications don't mean a great deal. With every bike recommended here, I make sure to look into the seller's customer service feedback. I try to guage their general attitude towards customer service. Whether through responses to customer complaints, volume of customer complaints versus glowing reviews; and / or complete lack of response to negative reviews. Always be sure to carry out your own checks though, since any seller can go up or downhill.
I'm not going to make a blanket statement like "all cheap exercise bikes will fall to bits", or rehash cliches like "you get what you pay for", because that's not ALWAYS the case. I've bought exceptional products cheaply, and I've also bought expensive lemons. It's vital to check out the customer reviews regarding long-term reliability.
- Comfort and Resistance
When I refer to comfort I don’t just mean how comfortable the saddle is to sit on, since this can usually be remedied with a good gel seat cover. I’m referring to the smoothness of the resistance. The cheaper exercise bikes typically use a belt or fan for resistance. The belt tension bikes tend to feel a little weird while pedalling, or at least that’s been my experience. Also, they have a tendency to get louder with higher resistance settings, since they rely on friction for resistance.
A better option is to look at the magnetic resistance exercise bikes. The good models typically provide a much smoother and quieter ride. If you’re in the market for an exercise bike with higher resistance levels, look out for the size and weight of the flywheel, since the bigger the flywheel, the greater the range of resistance.
I think most people would prefer to have a quieter exercise bike, especially if you live with other people or have neighbours to think about. I suppose this really depends on when you intend to exercise, however, many people like to listen to music or watch TV while cycling and a noisy exercise bike can be disruptive. If this is an issue for you, I recommend reading user reviews regarding any undue noise for whichever bike you want to buy.
- Size and Weight
With the exception of foldable exercise bikes, the majority of non-commercial exercise bikes are comparable in the amount of space they take up. They do differ in weight, however, so if you intend to move your exercise bike around a lot make sure it doesn't weigh a ton!
- Foldable or Stationary
If you’re stuck for space, a good foldable exercise bike may be preferable to no exercise bike at all, however, many offer little to no resistance and even beginners may find them unchallenging. Assuming you have the space, a good stationary bike with a heavy flywheel should keep you challenged long-term.
- User Weight and Height
We all come in different shapes and sizes. So it’s important to find an exercise bike that can be easily adjusted to accommodate you. Most people between 5’3” and 6’3” should be fine with a lot of home use exercise bikes on the market. However it's always vital to check first. Pay close attention to the reviews regarding seat adjustability. Also, take note of the max user weight. Some foldable exercise bikes for instance, can only hold up to 100 kgs.
The exercise bike reviews will be broken up into various comparison lists, then recommendations will be made based on a number of factors including best value for money, average rating, pros and cons, personal experience, user feedback and suitability.
This Post Was Last Updated: 13th of May 2016
Folding Exercise Bikes
Upright Exercise Bikes
Recumbent Exercise Bikes
The first set of bikes are foldable exercise bikes. I DON'T recommend these for more advanced users. These models are for beginners, or for people that need a foldup bike to save on space.
After weighing up the pros & cons, value for money, build quality, manufacturer customer service and a few other variables, the Ultrafit F-Bike has been choosen as the overall winner.
Category Winner – Ultrafit F-Bike
Alternatively, you could go for the newer model Ultrafit F-Bike which comes with back support. It's worth choosing if you need the back support while cycling.
Klarfit X-Bike-700 Foldable Exercise Bicycle
The Klarfit X-Bike-700 Foldable Exercise Bike is a decent alternative to the Ultrafit F-Bike (with back support), if that's what you need. It's an excellent choice if you're on a budget.
You don't always get what you pay for, but these are entry level upright exercise bikes and they're unlikely to WOW you. If you want to spend light, these models are adaquate. Personally, I'd invest a little more and get something more upmarket, but it really depends on your budget.
Category Winner – JLL JF100 Home Exercise Bike
The JF200 is the new and improved version of the JF100. Although, depending on when and where you buy, the JF100 often works out as better value for money. Having said that, I would personally go with the JF200 if it's on offer and is within your budget. You can get the JF200 here.
York Fitness Active 110 Exercise Bike
The York York Fitness Active 110 is the predecessor to the York C101 Cycle. It's a decent bike, however, York's customer support can be a bit hit and miss at times from what I've read. Although I personally used the C101 (my first stationary bike) for over a year, I never had any significant issue – so have never contacted York myself. I would recommend doing your own research first to be sure though.
These bikes tend to vary alot in price depending on when and where you buy. They have similiar specifications, although for me the DKN AM-E edges out in terms of build quality and overall performance.
Category Winner – DKN AM-E Exercise Bike
Reebok ZR8 Exercise Bike
The ZR8 is also a solid choice. Price fluctuations and offers not withstanding however, it may come at a higher cost than the category winner. Given the minor differences in specifications, the AM-E would still be my choice.
V-Fit G-RC Recumbent Magnetic Cycle
In my opinion, the V-Fit G-RC is a good entry level recumbent bike. It comes with a 6kg flywheel, which should provide enough resistance for leisurely use.
JLL Home Recumbent Exercise Bike RE100
The RE100 comes with a 4kg flywheel but is often slightly cheaper depending on offers available. It may be the better choice if you're wanting to spend as little as possible.
Both of these models are excellent choices. The Kettler model comes with a slightly heavier flywheel, but is often more expensive (offers and discounts not withstanding). I would personally go for the Pro Form 350 CSX unless the Kettler is within a similar price range.
Pro Form 350 CSX Recumbent Bike